Don’t take the Plain Dealer’s word for it when they write a critical editorial, “Walling off the public from the right to know” about the expansion of topics that our electeds can discuss behind closed doors. Consider how the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has named Ohio Governor John Kasich as one of the “Worst Governor’s In America.”
In February 2011, Gov. Kasich replaced Ohio’s Department of Development with JobsOhio, a private non-profit exempt from public record laws. Gov. Kasich’s administration resisted efforts by the state auditor to procure JobsOhio’s financial records, leading to a subpoena. JobsOhio ultimately complied, but Gov. Kasich later fast-tracked a bill to strip the state auditor’s authority to examine the records.
You can read about the state legislators who support shielding public dollars from public scrutiny helped the bill race through the Ohio House and Senate here.
And then there’s the Integrity Index which placed Ohio at 40th. Look at Ohio’s placement on matters like public records, open meetings and whistleblower protection. How depressing.
At dinner tonight, my voting-aged son asked me what I could say I’ve accomplished since I’ve been on Pepper Pike City Council. And I can say, unequivocally that our work is more open, accessible and transparent – by far – than when I got on to Council. A culture of “need to know basis” of providing information has been replaced with a default of placing it online as soon as available. Now, I’m always pressing for more but there is unquestionably far greater public access to far more public information than when I ran four years.
Not only can’t our electeds in Columbus say that – many of them specifically vote to decrease that access. The Columbus Dispatch wrote, “A Better Government Association study paints Ohio as a backwater when it comes to government integrity.”
We can do so much better.
Thought for the weekend: Maybe we’re hearing people drop literary equivalents of bombs – shiny distracting explosive objects – in the midst of debates about complicated issues precisely because the issues are so complicated. And isn’t it easier to follow the shiny object and debate that? But if anything, we should note those explosions as red flags that tell us 1) just how critical it is to keep our focus on the issue and 2) just how critical it is that we hear each other, work toward and achieve solutions. Dropping shiny explosive objects into tough discussions is a tell about a lack of interest in getting to a solution. Know it, call it out and get back to the discussion that needs to be had. I just so happen to know a place where that’s exactly the mission.
From the inbox:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John O’Brien: 216.698.2099 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Dailey Jones: 216.263.4602, 216.338.0863 or email@example.com
MERGER STUDY KICK-OFF, COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION DESIRED
Cuyahoga County – The Shared Services/Merger Study for Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere, Ohio is being launched through a series of public meetings on Thursday, February 7, and Friday, February 8, 2013.
These meetings will provide the community with an opportunity to learn about the study process and to join the conversation around both merger and shared services for these communities. Each meeting will include an overview of the project, information about some of the key characteristics of the four communities, an interactive live survey and a roundtable discussion of challenges and opportunities. The meetings will be moderated by the project consultant, the Center for Governmental Research of Rochester, New York.
Each of the meetings will follow the same format so attendance is only necessary at one of the four options listed below:
Public Meeting Information
Thursday, February 7th
- 1:30 pm – Woodmere Village Hall at 27899 Chagrin Boulevard
- 4:00 pm – Orange Village Hall at 4600 Lander Road
- 7:00 pm – Moreland Hills Village Hall at 4350 SOM. Center Road
Friday, February 8th
- 8:30 am – Pepper Pike City Hall at 28000 Shaker Boulevard
About the Center for Governmental Research:
CGR is a 98-year-old independent nonprofit strategic consulting and decision support organization with significant expertise conducting local government merger and shared service studies and developing implementation plans across New York and the Northeast. CGR is headquartered in Rochester, NY and was engaged by Cuyahoga County and the involved municipalities to serve as study consultant in December, 2012.
From MSNBC this morning:
Read more here.
The last several months have been extraordinarily busy ones for me as I find and hit a groove with my work at The Civic Commons on behalf of the EfficientGovNetwork. You can check out what Jill built, with some very excellent assistance from the Civic Commons team, here and can join us in person to see what we’re working toward this Thursday at an afternoon hour-long City Club Forum:
Local Government 2.0
Ohio’s State Budget and What it Means
February 2 @4:30pm
The $112 billion state budget Governor Kasich signed in July 2011 is in full effect. The budget cut $2 billion to local governments and schools; repealed the estate tax and included an expansion of charter schools. The votes were along party lines- Democrats criticized the budget for including too many cuts and GOP legislative leaders praised the budget for filling in a multi-billion budget shortfall.
The City Club, in partnership with The Civic Commons, ideastream and
The Plain Dealer, will examine the state budget as well as educate the community on the policies and programs proposed to help municipalities.
Moderated by: Joe Frolik, The Plain Dealer
Randy Cole, President, Ohio Controlling Board; Policy Advisor, Kasich Administration
Kathy Mulcahy, Mayor, Orange Village
Tony Paglia, VP, Government Affairs, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
*Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance of the event. Reservations will be held 15 minutes past start of program, such as 12:15 for noon programs. Reservations will then be open to standby ticketing.
$20 Non Member
Reservations Toll-Free at 888-223-6786 or locally at 216-621-0082
Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to pass this on to folks whom you think might want to join us.
One of the things I loved the most about the Meet the Bloggers forums of 2005-2007 was that it let me sit next to and ask questions directly of people like Ted Strickland, Richard Cordray, Jim Petro and Sherrod Brown. Once you have a taste of that, you never want to go back to just writing a letter or placing a call, but alas MTB is no more.
However, into the fray went my colleague, Dan Moulthrop, at the Civic Commons where he is moderating a fantastic online forum with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Candidates. This forum is a SUPERB way to interact DIRECTLY with people who want to be elected to office. They want to be your public servant, you better believe they should be engaging in the public & this forum does that.
Today is the last day so please go read & ask and comment. It’s your county and your vote.
That certainly is a huge desire on the part of many taxpayers (elected as well as non-), as well as something many taxpayers actually do not want to see (again, elected as well as non-). Throughout Ohio, communities have examined dispatch configuration as a place to find ways to continue the service but at a lower cost, and hopefully at the same or better service level. The success of doing that varies as much as the desires to do it or not do it.
What’s been your experience?
Go Hoyas – he did so much better than me in undergrad ConLaw anyway; just received in the inbox. The one thing I keep noticing is how little knowledge of or respect for transparency and openness seems to be reflected in what the public records seem to show. How to protect what people didn’t want other people to know seems to have been the overriding interest in the process. Read Aaron Marshall’s piece from today’s front page above the fold Plain Dealer story for background.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DECEMBER 13, 2011
Contact: Sarah Bender, House Democratic Communications (614) 466-9036
Rep. Murray Request Joint Investigation into Waste, Abuse and Fraud
Calls for Investigation into Secretive Map Drawing Processes
COLUMBUS – State Representative and Ranking Member of the Judiciary and Ethics Committee Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) sent a letter to Inspector General Randall Meyer and Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe requesting a joint investigation into potential waste, abuse, fraud, and violations of state sunshine and public records laws. This comes after the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting released a transparency report yesterday highlighting some of the misconduct in the redistricting and re-apportionment processes.
“The information in yesterday’s report revealed is absolutely appalling. I ask for a joint investigation today because I fear we are just beginning to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the congressional redistricting and re-apportionment processes,” Rep. Murray said. “My Democratic colleagues and I are deeply troubled at the wasteful spending of Ohioan’s tax dollars, and the violation of Ohio’s sunshine and public records laws.”
A copy of the letter can be seen below. Read more
Nice photo and article about the opening keynote in which I got to participate at last week’s CampaignTech conference (which was really excellent). There are other articles and photos floating around out there but I’ve not had time to track them down.
Many thanks to Julie Germany, Shane Greer & Shane D’Aprile of Campaigns & Elections, Pete Snyder of New Media Strategies (NMS) and all the folks who put on this event. It was an incredible honor to be involved in not one, not two but three speaking opportunities there (here’s an article about the Innovators Award speeches and presentation) and I’m sure the message that local electeds and constituencies need to “get it” and now and how got across.
And – in the spirit of political leadership in the digital age, while I was at the event, there was a Road & Safety/Finance & Planning meeting in Pepper Pike which I observed, from my hotel in DC, via Skype. Another first for our city & for our city government. I wasn’t counted for the quorum, there were no votes taken and even if there would have been, I would not have participated. But it was great for me to follow along during a very long and content-rich meeting so that at this coming week’s City Council meeting, I can participate fully and well-informed. Many thanks to my colleague Scott Newell who provided the laptop through which I could view the meeting.
And that is not leadership.
Whether we’re talking Herman Cain’s economic plan (9-9-9 or 9-0-9) or how he and his campaign are failing to deal with Politico’s reporting on the settlement specifics between the National Restaurant Association (when Cain was its head) and two of its former employees regarding alleged sexual harassment in the workplace, Cain seems to believe that he can reduce, minimize and make disappear whatever complexities he thinks ail others from being able to come up with solutions.
The problem is, whether it’s people who view certain behavior of his as being inappropriate and constituting sexual harassment (even if he doesn’t see it that way) or people saying that his 9-9-9 plan won’t help the poor but would in fact exacerbate their economic standing, he seeks to make the complicating factors – women and the poor – disappear from the equation altogether.
Lucky for women and sadly for the poor, there are tens of millions in both groups. We won’t disappear and we don’t call people who would like to see that happen, “leader.”
Seriously, Herman. You can claim the leader mantle in a number of ways. Including, leader of the reductionists.
You just have to love this narrative:
IT HAPPENED AGAIN LAST NIGHT!
Now Claire’s running for office.
Julie Bowen’s character on Modern Family declared for City Council last night.
Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) has her congressional campaign in high gear on Glee.
Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation has her own campaign website here.
Lawyer Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) on The Good Wife is toying with the idea of running.
And Julia Louis-Dreyfus will join these activist characters as the VEEP next year.How about you?
Will life imitate art? Will you step up and lead?
I actually don’t watch much television – and none of these shows. But I think it’s fantastic and would LOVE for life to imitate art. When are you going to run for office?
BONUS: In real life, the woman scorned by NJ Governor Chris Christie is running for the New Jersey General Assembly and David Sirota’s wife is running for school board in a race in Colorado that involves more than $600,000 in total campaign contributions among candidates – for school board.
Hattip for the collection of characters going for the arena to The 2012 Project.
Mike Gillis, Ohio AFL-CIO communications director, has written up this excellent piece about the forum I moderated two days ago on the impact of Issue 2 (i.e., SB5) on women in the workforce. The panelists were superb and I could have listened to them for a day-long presentation.
I’ll be writing up my thoughts on the panel in the next day or so but in the meantime, please read Mike’s post. A teaser:
Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for labor relations with the Ohio Nurses Association, spoke about legal aspects to collective bargaining that act as a protection for women in the workplace.
One of our core American values is equality. Collective bargaining elevates the role of the employee so they can have a say in the workplace and there are many laws that protect women in the workplace. Collective bargaining provides another layer of that protection.
Any of the panelists would be great resources if you still have questions.
Just submitted to the Plain Dealer:
Thank you for providing the online interactive map of the proposed Congressional districts which was passed by the Ohio House this week. It is shameful that the chair of the House committee that was responsible for creating the map did not make it or something similar available at the same time they released what they did. I have “read” HB 319 and it is incomprehensible unless you know your home’s census tract number or how to find those and then suffer through finding that information within HB 319. No voter should be required to have to do that in order to figure out who may represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. The so-called leaders who have chosen to pursue redistricting in this way clearly define public service in an extremely narrow and exclusionary manner. Their actions undermine all that so many other elected officials do to instill trust in government. As a fellow elected official (Pepper Pike City Council), I am angry and disappointed.
I should also mention that I called Ohio House Rep. Matt Huffman’s office on Wednesday and asked for a map that would show voters where there city is vis a vis the old and proposed congressional district maps. I have yet to get any kind of reply.
I am a garden variety Democratic, but if there is one way to make sure that a voter who sees himself or herself as an independent never supports you, refusing to let them know who is going to represent them and refusing to give them a say in how you think they should be divvied out, it’s how Huffman and others have abused the system in this task of redistricting. I’ll stop there since have some work to do that actually relates to serving all of the public – not just the ones who vote for me.
I don’t get a good feeling from this – but let’s hear from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald. Very curious to know what his calculation was in agreeing to this, if Ohio SOS Jon Husted’s statement accurately reflects Fitzgerald’s understanding of the agreement. Here it is – I’ve highlighted the pertinent part:
Secretary Of State Husted Statement On Absentee Ballot Applications And Uniformity Of Ohio Elections
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 2, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HUSTED STATEMENT ON ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS AND UNIFORMITY OF OHIO ELECTIONS
COLUMBUS – The following may be attributed in whole, or in part, to Secretary of State Jon Husted regarding the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot request forms and maintaining uniformity in how elections are administered in Ohio:
“Yesterday I met with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Councilman Michael Gallagher to gain a better understanding of our mutual concerns regarding the distribution of unsolicited absentee ballot request forms.
“Through a productive exchange of ideas, we were able to develop a plan and achieve consensus to preserve the uniform standards I have sought statewide.
“Cuyahoga County officials have agreed not to send out unsolicited mailings for the 2011 General Election and the Secretary of State’s office will distribute absentee ballot request forms to voters in all 88 counties for the 2012 Presidential Election – so that each Ohio voter has uniform and equal access to their ballots.
“Leaders in the General Assembly, House Speaker William Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus, have graciously agreed to support this plan and will appropriate the necessary resources from existing and available federal Help America Vote Act funds.
“I am glad we have been able to work out our differences but ultimately it will be the voters who benefit from this agreement. This will help reduce the chance of long lines at the polls during the Presidential Election and voters in smaller counties will have the same conveniences as voters in larger counties.”
For more information, please contact Matt McClellan at 614-995-2168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:54 am September 2nd, 2011 in Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Ethics, Executive, Government, Law, leadership, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting, WH2012, White House 2012, Whitehouse09 | Comments Off
Since I’ve been following the Ohio Secretary of State ban on absentee ballot application mailings by county boards of elections and the response to that ban by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald and County Council, I feel compelled to highlight Connie Schultz’s column in today’s Plain Dealer, “Voter fraud is just a dark GOP fantasy.” She makes many good points and arguments.
But also, a forest for the trees image came into view for me I read: since the November 2010 election and the start of the Kasich administration, we keep having these situations where someone says or does something, and then they have to or they decide that they want to undo it. Whether it’s the new Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel apologizing for campaign tactics after getting elected, or Kasich trying to sell his version of what coming to the table looks like in regard to SB5, or now Ohio SOS Jon Husted admitting that he was thinking out loud when he mentioned that one possible response to Fitzgerald’s plan would be to not process certain absentee ballot applications. From Connie’s column:
Husted told me Tuesday he made a mistake “thinking out loud.”
“I was exploring a list of options, which I should have kept to myself until I figured out what I was doing,” Husted said. “He [FitzGerald] took my comments out of context, and mischaracterized my intentions. What I want is uniformity in all 88 counties.”
I will say that Husted’s words, in conjunction with several acts over time, as Connie also points out, and about which I am aware as well, support the sincerity of his regret. The coming actions he takes will tell us for sure.
But going back to the Columbus trendline, set by the governor’s shoot from the hip personality: Recall also that even my state senator, Tom Patton, for whom I have a great deal of respect and with whom I’ve had at meaningful communications about important issues, had to account for voting against something he had meant to vote for, simply because he was swept up in the no-ness of it all in the all-GOP state government and voted “no” by “reflex.”
Governing cannot be about making decisions for Ohio by a gut reflex. Our guts do possess great wisdom when it comes to discerning and deciding about risk. But the way in which we’re seeing it being used as THE way in which to make decisions will cost us all.
As prolific a blogger as I’ve been over the years, well-known for tenacity, this issue is one that I’m going to have to keep up with on the sly while taking care of other business. After a few random thoughts, I’ve provided a few must-read or must-listen links.
1. This is about the voters, as Republican County Council member Mike Gallagher has said.
2. Voting is a constitutional fundamental right.
3. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is not a lawyer, though State Auditor Dave Yost is.
4. Husted’s threat to not process vote by mail applications was petty, mean-spirited and a personal attack on County Executive Ed Fitzgerald’s plans for how to keep our county’s voting system from sinking back into the morass it was under Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. It shows the gut level at which Jon Husted is viewing this issue, rather than at the independent level of securing all the rights of all the voters to the best of our abilities. And frankly empathizing with the way in which the large counties’ boards of elections have prioritized spending on making sure that vote by mail is utilized more and more so that the day-of voting problems for voters, as well as the costs and resources, can be reduced.
5. The state auditor’s suggestion that the public spending to be done by the County may in some way be contrary to law and therefore actionable is likewise petty, mean-spirited and a personal attack on the county executive.
6. Has it occurred to these fellas that maybe it’s Husted’s directive that bans county boards of elections from mailing out vote by mail applications that is the unconstitutional step because, despite how many time he uses the word “uniformity,” the reality is that his ban disparately affects voters’ rights which include access.
7. Finally, I will again point out that Husted knows exactly what it means to not abridge voters’ rights and we know he knows this because of his recently announced plans related to military voters. In other words, Husted, through his actions, has demonstrated an appreciation for the reality that uniformity of process is not the highest priority when it comes to voters rights. And in the case of military voters, he has decided to provide them with mechanisms that other voters will not get.
Voters in large counties, as law experts cited in today’s Plain Dealer confirm, likewise need mechanisms that other voters may or may not get in order to safeguard their voting rights.
The side on which Husted should be erring is on the side of the voters. This is a ridiculous fight for him to be picking – now or at any time. Read more
UPDATE: Read County Executive Ed Fitzgerald’s statement on the 10-0 bipartisan passage of the relevant resolution after the jump below.
You can read my live tweets of the meeting at twitter.com/jillmz
The Plain Dealer’s Laura J Johnston also tweeted it at twitter.com/lauraejjohnston
I used @cuyahogacounty a lot, and Laura used #cuyahogacounty – which now that I think of it, I should have probably done too. I also used @edfitzgeraldce when he was addressing Council.
District 6, Jack Schron (my rep), was not present at the meeting from what I could tell but it was not 100% clear whether he’d been there earlier – I wasn’t watching the whole time, just listening the whole time.
What will the repartees bring? Read more
You can read the press release from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald after the jump but you can read an account of his press conference and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s reaction to that press conference here and here.
The best part? Husted calls Fitzgerald a “rogue actor” because Fitzgerald wants to give our voters better service than other counties and send out the absentee ballot applications. From both links:
In response [to Fitzgerald's plan for the county to send out the vote by mail applications], Husted released a statement that said, “Mr. FitzGerald’s accusations are laughable. It is important that voters in all 88 counties be given equal access to a ballot and I will work to uphold that standard, even in the face of rogue actors like Mr. FitzGerald. Let me provide reassurance and be perfectly clear, every legal absentee ballot application received by boards of elections will be processed and a ballot will be sent.”
Yuh huh – and how exactly will Husted define a “legal” absentee ballot application? Would he really deny voters their requested absentee ballots because they used an application that they received from Cuyahoga County, and not from the BOE?
What’s very interesting about this is that many entities possess absentee ballot applications – including senior centers, libraries and, er, um, candidates for office. Since not EVERY senior center in Ohio, or EVERY library in Ohio, or EVERY candidate for office in November 2011 will be giving out vote by mail applications, will Husted police each library, senior centers and candidate for office to make SURE that they are not giving out applications for vote by mail ballots?
How unbelievably absurd is this interpretation of “equal access” and yet exactly what he’s saying as he twists that phrase to disenfranchise large counties from being able to serve Ohio’s electorate.
From Fitgerald’s office this afternoon: Read more
From the inbox this morning-can’t find it anywhere else though:
Media Contacts: John Kohlstrand: (216) 698-2099 or email@example.com
Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216)338-0863 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FITZGERALD TO RESPOND TO THREAT TO BLOCK REQUESTS FOR BALLOTS
CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald will host a news conference at 4 p.m. today (Sunday, Aug. 28) to outline his response to a threat from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to prevent Cuyahoga County voters who request an absentee ballot from getting one.
Late last week, Husted told Ohio Public Radio that he is considering prohibiting the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from processing applications for absentee ballots if county government goes forward with a plan to mail an absentee voter application to all active registered voters in the county. The Cuyahoga County Council is scheduled to vote on that plan at 4 p.m. Monday.
FitzGerald will be seeking a U.S. Department of Justice review of Husted’s comments.
Today’s news conference will be in front of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, 2925 Euclid Ave., in Cleveland.
# # #
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
In response to a request I made today of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services’ communications department, I received the following information regarding the nine Ohio women who are, as I type this, about to be inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. I want to be clear: the people who helped me to get this information (three individuals in different offices) were lovely and very congenial and helpful. However, the fact that I had to take the steps I did to even get this information and the complete and total failure on the part of the Kasich administration to more widely acknowledge the individuals being honored today is shameful, embarrassing and should be reversed 100% in the future. This honor is now in its fifth decade of existence. It is nonpartisan. The diversity fail pattern of the current administration – intentional or unintentional – continues unabated. You can watch the induction here at The Ohio Channel.
Nine women will be inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium. The event is free and open to the public.
The nine women inducted will join more than 400 members of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. The 2011 inductees are:
Cheryl A. Boyce of Franklin County for her contributions to health services. Boyce was born in East St. Louis, Ill. Her interest in public health was the result of the premature death of her father. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health education from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in health planning and administration for the University of Cincinnati. She has made Columbus her home for more than 40 years and recently retired as the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health.
Elizabeth H. Flick of Franklin County for her contributions to community and military service. Flick was born and raised in England but has made her home in Columbus for more than 50 years. In 1972, she put on the POW/MIA bracelet of an American veteran missing in Vietnam, but she decided that was not enough. Thus began a lifelong dedication to the veteran community.
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911) for her contributions to cultural activism and the arts. Watkins was born a free African American in Baltimore, Md., in 1825. The 1982 Smithsonian exhibit of 20 panels celebrating African-American women highlighted her as a pioneer for civil rights. She taught at Union Seminary in western Ohio, which later merged with Wilberforce University. She was also married and gave birth to her only child while living on a farm in central Ohio.
Brenda J. Hollis of Henry County for contributions in the military service and law. Hollis is an international criminal prosecutor based at The Hague in the Netherlands. She served on the first international criminal tribunals related to crimes against humanity since World War II. She attended elementary and high school in Henry County and earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Bowling Green State University (BGSU). While at BGSU she was also an outstanding athlete in several sports. Read more